About The virtual event

Before the pandemic, school dropout was a ‘hidden crisis’ barely featuring on the national agenda. The topic would arise as a peripheral issue in the public discourse during the announcement of the annual matric pass rate. But, dropout is a fringe topic no more! In July, researchers revealed that an additional 500 000 learners left school during the pandemic, taking dropout to a 20-year high. Children in quintile 1-3 schools are estimated to have lost almost a year of learning, dealing a significant setback to early grade reading. So severe is the impact, researchers estimate that it could take up to a decade to undo. 

Join us on 28 September 2021 from 11.15 am - 1 pm for the very first Zero Dropout Action Summit - an urgent, national response to reducing learner dropout. The summit is a launchpad for change, offering a recommended dropout prevention plan and toolkits for all schools.

  • Africa Melane  
    Driving the conversation on education

    Africa is best known for his long-standing role as the anchor of the Early Breakfast Show on Cape Talk where he regularly contributes to the national dialogue on socio-economic issues. He is also the host of Future of Education, a feature that asks South Africans to think about ways to support learners to access post-school opportunities.

  • Merle Mansfield  
    Leading the campaign against dropout 

    Merle is committed to making visible the large number of learners who disappear from the school system each year by advocating for a proactive response to reducing the rate of school dropout. In her role of Programme Director of the Zero Dropout Campaign, she is responsible for bringing the campaign’s vision to life and coordinating a team of NGO implementing partners. Merle has worked in the civil society space for more than a decade, largely focusing on education and philanthropy.

  • Nompumelelo Mohohlwane
    Measuring dropout during the pandemic

    Nompumelelo’s recent work has brought the dropout crisis into sharp focus with hard facts and figures that show the impact of the pandemic on education in South Africa. Her evidence-based approach reveals the damage caused by disruptions to schooling, particularly to early grade reading. She is also part of the unit responsible for system monitoring and research on the effectiveness of education interventions within the Department of Basic Education.

  • Lynn van der Elst
    Strengthening support systems 

    Lynn brings more than 40 years of education development experience to the Department of Basic Education’s portfolio on learner care and support. Her role in assisting the department’s mainstreaming of care and support across the education system is integral to shaping a national response to dropout. Lynn is also the co-founder and former CEO of MIET Africa, an NGO committed to improving the lives of children and young people across the SADC Region through quality education.

  • Mayke Huijbregts  
    Reinforcing safety nets 

    Mayke’s work in advocating for vulnerable learners in Southern Africa highlights the relationship between learner wellbeing and education outcomes. Her work demonstrates how disruptions in households and communities can affect a learner’s grip on schooling. Mayke has worked with UNICEF for more than 18 years and holds the position of Chief of Child Protection for the organisation in South Africa.

  • About the Zero Dropout Campaign

    The Zero Dropout Campaign began as a research project funded by the DG Murray Trust in 2015 and has since grown into an advocacy group focused on halving the rate of school dropout by 2030, with two dedicated programmes of action and a network of NPO implementing partners working in schools. https://zerodropout.co.za/

  • About M&G virtual events and registration 

    For any queries or if you are interested to be a Partner Sponsor for M&G virtual events, contact [email protected] or visit https://mg.co.za/webinars/


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